The right turns on Boehner after committee "purge"

The House speaker removed four conservatives from their committee seats for bucking party leadership

By Jillian Rayfield
Published December 5, 2012 2:02PM (EST)

The right is outraged with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, for "purging" four conservatives from their prime committee posts because they bucked party leadership in key votes.

Reps. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., and Justin Amash, R-Mich., lost their positions on the House Budget Committee for the next session. And Walter Jones, R-N.C., and  David Schweikert, R-Ariz., were booted from the House Financial Services Committee.

From the AP:

All four lawmakers had voted against the summer 2011 deal negotiated between Republican leaders and President Barack Obama for extending the government’s ability to borrow money in exchange for $1 trillion in spending cuts and the promise of another $1 trillion in reduced deficits. Three of the four, the exception being Schweikert, voted against the Ryan-written GOP budget blueprint that the House passed last March.

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said the move was “based on a range of factors," but a Schweikert spokesman said that the congressman had been told that he had voted  “against the team" too often. In a statement, Huelskamp said that “The GOP leadership might think they have silenced conservatives, but removing me and others from key committees only confirms our conservative convictions. This is clearly a vindictive move, and a sure sign that the GOP Establishment cannot handle disagreement."

And Amash wrote on his Facebook page: "What message does leadership’s heavy-handedness send? It says that independent thinking won’t be tolerated, not even 5% of the time. It says that voting your conscience won’t be respected."

Conservatives were furious with Boehner, and the Tea Party group FreedomWorks told supporters they should  get Boehner to "stop purging fiscal conservatives." FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe said in a statement that “[t]his is a clear attempt on the part of Republican leadership to punish those in Washington who vote the way they promised their constituents they would – on principle – instead of mindlessly rubber-stamping trillion dollar deficits and the bankrupting of America."

The right also took to Twitter to express their outrage, and tried to get #PurgeBoehner to trend:

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“As the sun rises this morning we can look at John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Kevin McCarthy and know the opposition is not just across the aisle, but in charge of our own side in the House of Representatives,” wrote Erick Erickson on RedState. “All the time and energy I would otherwise have to spend to convince conservatives that these gentlemen would be a problem for the GOP has been spared. They’ve proven it themselves.”

The anger over the committee posts adds to the tension between House leadership, which has been trying to cut a deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff," and conservatives, who have so far been pressuring Boehner over the proposal he put forward earlier this week.

“One party proposes 800 billion in tax increases,” wrote Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., on his Facebook page. “In an effort to counter them and continue to be the 'low tax, small government' party, the other party’s leadership proposes …. wait for it … 800 billion in tax increases. As my good friend Jim DeMint says, if you are speeding toward a cliff at 80mph, putting on the cruise control is not really a viable solution.”

And Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., tweeted:

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Conservative activist Brent Bozell said in a statement that any Republicans who vote for the plan will become targets: "It would be impossible to count the times and ways Boehner, [Rep. Eric] Cantor, [Rep. Kevin] McCarthy and so many others have told America that tax hikes would kill jobs and cripple the economy. Lo and behold, that’s just what they've proposed, $800 billion of them."

Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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Budget Showdown Conservatives Erick Erickson John Boehner Michelle Malkin Tim Huelskamp